Yesterday, the cover of my debut novel was revealed, along with the first chapter! Thank you to Lucy at Queen of Contemporary, Daisy Chain Book Reviews, Jim at YAYeahYeah, Hannah at Luna’s Little Library, Sarah Likes Books, Becki at A Word Shaker, Tilly-and-her-books, Manda at Bookmad, and Ink-slingers for their help with the reveal!
As you can see, it was posted practically everywhere, but just in case you haven’t seen it yet…here it is!
Ahhh, isn’t it stunning? The different sections represent the different lives of the characters, as they are reincarnated in different time periods throughout the book. The ink etching on the left is their life in 1745, going all the way across to their life in 2039 – which has these cool heart molecules on it:
I think one of the reasons I love my cover so much is that it’s not super girly and pink and glittery. It’s a romance, so I could easily have ended up with a cover like that…but instead I get this!
It’s very non-gendered and sophisticated and classy and I LOVE IT. Last week I blogged about coverflip, about how female writers tend to get more fluffy and less serious covers compared to similar books written by men. I think it’s a great sign that my cover escaped that. It could easily be used for a book by a male writer too, like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas! It’s so AMAZING.
And there’s a MOVING VERSION:
There’s so many more things I could point out about the cover, which is designed by Jack Noel at Walker Books – like that the second section is a John Constable painting! – but instead I’ll move onto the next exciting thing, the first chapter extract!
The Next Together by Lauren James
The last time they were together, it was late evening and they were being followed.
“It’s happening again,” Kate said, and immediately regretted it. Matthew didn’t reply, only squeezed her hand a little tighter, following behind where she led him. She knew what it meant. They were going to die.
They ran. Kate tried to be quiet, but her breath sounded dangerously loud in the silence and as heavy as her heartbeat pounding in her ears. Matthew pressed a palm against the small of her back, urging her on.
She could hear footsteps behind them, growing faster and faster, gaining on them.
They turned a corner and ducked into a room. Matthew locked the door behind them with trembling fingers.
They stared at each other, listening for the sound of their pursuers. For a moment there was silence. They had a few minutes, but that was all. They were going to be found; it was just a matter of whether they could finish their task first.
“Next time, we’re moving somewhere hot and quiet before any of this happens,” she declared resolutely.
“I like Spain,” Matthew agreed and pulled her into one last, slightly desperate kiss.
University of Nottingham Campus, England, 2039
Kate poured glycerol into a beaker, measuring out what she would need for the afternoon’s experiment. She wasn’t really in the mood for labs today, but it was only her second session of Biology practicals since university started and she couldn’t miss it. It didn’t help that she was the only person without a lab partner, so she had to do double the work of the other first-years. Not that she minded the extra work particularly.
She’d just enjoy having someone to gossip with, which − judging by the crowd gathered by the ice machine − was all the other students did.
She was opening up her labbook on her tablet when a voice from behind her said her name.
“Kate Finchley?” a harried-looking supervisor asked.
“Yep,” she said, dropping her pen and turning around.
At the same time, she stuck her hand into her pocket, fingers catching on a locket she’d stuffed in there last week when it had annoyed her while she was working in a fume cupboard.
The supervisor gestured to a boy who was standing behind her. “Here’s your new lab partner; just transferred from Chemistry. You can get him settled, can’t you?”
Then the supervisor disappeared in a cloud of stress and steamed-up goggles to deal with another fresher, who had just managed to drop a beaker of something foul on the floor and then stand in it.
Kate stared at the boy. “Hi,” she said dubiously. She fished out the locket and put it back on.
He stared back at her, his expression indecipherable. Then he nodded hello. He was wearing a tweed waistcoat, of all things, over a ratty band T-shirt. His light brown hair hung over his eyes in a retro fringe that seemed to be based on something from the late noughties.
She was delighted to note that despite his doubtful fashion choices he was exactly her type.
“Welcome to my lair. Make yourself at home.” She gestured to the lab, which was filling with the gentle scent of rotting manure. Nearby a cluster of the Ice-Machine Gossipers, labcoat sleeves over their noses, were gathered around the spillage, offering advice to the flustered supervisor.
Kate turned back to the boy, who’d dropped his labcoat onto the bench like he’d just been waiting for her permission.
He’d apparently been using it as a kind of satchel, as he pulled out an assortment of stationery, notebooks and what looked like his lunch (in a biology lab; did he have no survival instincts at all?) from its depths. As he finally wrestled his way into his sparkling new labcoat and then rescued an apple from where it had bounced across the floor, she found her gaze lingering on the way his hair curled over the back of his collar.
Having picked up the apple, he turned around and actually blushed when he noticed her watching him − a vivid pink staining cheekbones that she was frankly jealous of. Bone structure like that was wasted on a chemist. Kate pulled off her goggles to distract from the fact that she’d been caught watching him. She fought for a moment to pull them from their determined grip in her tangled red hair.
He had blushed? She wasn’t sure what to do with that, actually. Was it a good thing, a guy blushing when you looked at him? He might as well have a name tag saying, “Hi, I’m a shy, socially awkward scientist. Please don’t look me directly in the eye or I might faint.”
Kate was just imagining him introducing himself as “a socially awkward scientist”, his Scottish lilt skipping quickly over the words, when he cleared his throat and spoke.
“I didn’t actually download a copy of the labbook. What experiment are we doing today?”
That was a bit odd. He sounded exactly as she had imagined him: the same soft Scottish brogue. She frowned.
Why had she assumed he would be Scottish?
“Cleaning up horse muck, by the look of it,” she joked, glancing over at the students still gathered around the spillage.
He dimpled a smile at her, and relaxed a little.
“What’s your name?” he asked, looking her up and down. His eyes lingered on her labcoat collar, which was decorated with badges and beads, but he didn’t mention it. She didn’t think he had any right to judge – there was half a ham sandwich poking out of his pocket.
“Kate,” she said brightly, trying to convey a more normal aura.
His eyebrows rose at her answer in what looked like surprise. She wasn’t sure why her name would be surprising.
“Matt,” he replied. “Matt Galloway.”
“Hi, Matt, nice to meet you. Welcome to Biology, etc., etc. I know you from somewhere. Have we met before?”
Or instead of being normal she could just act like his own personal stalker. That worked too.
“We haven’t met before. I would have remembered.” He blushed and then stammered, “I mean, I haven’t even been to this country before. I moved here for university.”
She eyed him speculatively. He must be particularly intelligent to have got permission to study abroad. Since Scotland had gained independence from England after the last world war, almost twenty years ago, it had been practically impossible to get permits to study internationally.
Hmmm. He didn’t seem like he was lying. Where did she know him from?
She should probably get back to work and give him a week or so to settle in before she began to torment him further by actually chatting to him, or doing something equally terrifying like nodding to him in the corridor. It was obvious he was completely overwhelmed by her raw sexuality − or that was what she was telling herself, anyway, and no one could prove otherwise. But she couldn’t look away. There was something … familiar about him.
He made no attempt to continue talking, just looked at her, nonplussed. Kate was afraid to continue any line of conversation in case he actually died from the blood rushing to his face, but the silence was awkward, so she eventually said, “Why are you transferring over to biology, anyway?”
“There weren’t as many explosions as I was hoping for in chemistry.” It sounded like a prepared response; he’d probably been asked that question a lot recently.
“Well there aren’t nearly half as many giant octopuses as you’d want in biology either, sorry.”
He grinned. “Shame. How’s the physics department here?”
She could sense him eyeing her, and she tried not to feel self-conscious. Her grandmother had once described her as a perfect Pre-Raphaelite beauty, which she took to mean that her figure was a little too soft around the edges to conform to twenty-first-century perceptions of beauty, and her hair was a vivid shock of red. Sometimes people at school had teased her for being ginger, but she’d always loved her hair too much for it to bother her.
Either way, she was secure in her body image a lot of the time, but it didn’t stop her feeling self-conscious, especially when there was a cute boy looking at her like she was the most interesting thing he’d seen all day.
“I’d give the physics lot six out of ten. There aren’t enough brunets,” she said.
There’d been a disappointing mixers event in freshers’ week.
He grinned and Kate smiled back, then she said, “I hear their MRI research rivals Cambridge’s, though.”
“I’ll look into that, then. If the octopi don’t work out.”
“I’m sure they will. No sea monsters today, though. We’re testing fertiliser effects on the development rates of bacteria cultures.”
“Sounds a lot easier than chemistry labs. I had to bring an acid to boil. On my first day.”
“Ouch. Well, I’ll look after you today.” She handed him a pair of latex gloves. Their hands touched, just slightly.
> First contact established in time-landscape 2039
Kate shuddered, closing her eyes for a moment. She felt a little strange.
Carlisle, England, 1745
Katherine stared out of the carriage window, vacantly taking in the bustling streets of her new town. It was raining heavily, thick droplets momentarily cleaning the dirty cobblestones. They pulled to a stop with an abrupt clatter of horseshoes, and the coachman came around to hand her down. He smiled gently at her as she held tightly to his hand for balance.
> First contact established in time-landscape 1745
She could feel herself relaxing in response to his touch and her expression softening, although she couldn’t muster up a smile. She hadn’t smiled properly in several weeks now.
“We must have the dressmaker sew you a new dress first,” her aunt Elizabeth said, climbing out of the carriage behind her. “You simply can’t wear that old thing when you’re introduced into Carlisle society.”
Katherine nodded vaguely. Elizabeth was so excited about taking her to parties and lunches, as if it hadn’t been barely a week since her whole life had changed.
The coachman escorted them to the dressmakers’ below a wide umbrella. Before leaving them, he confirmed that he would collect them later in the afternoon. He had a Scottish accent. In an attempt to cheer her up, the housekeeper at her grandmother’s house had told her stories of the mysterious and dangerous
Scottish savages while they were packing her belongings.
It hadn’t worked. She’d been too distracted that her home was being disassembled around her and that her grandmother was dead.
As they entered the dressmakers’, Katherine put her hand into her pocket to feel for the advertisement for the sale of her old home − the only home she’d ever known. It was to be sold, along with all the furniture.
>>File note: Clipping from The Times classified advertisements
In the dressmakers’, Elizabeth settled on a light green silk with pink braiding. Katherine made sure to express her gratitude to her aunt, but she felt awkward in the close-fitting, expensive clothing. She hadn’t worn anything this fine even when her grandmother was alive.Katherine had a small circle of acquaintances, having spent the last few years looking after her grandmother. She didn’t regret it, but now she had to face the rest of the world she realized how introverted she had become.She was nearly eighteen and it was time to grow up. She shifted in the new clothing, suddenly feeling ready to start her new life.
Southampton Harbour, England, 1854
Katy glanced up from the Times advertisement she held clutched in herhand and looked around, feeling a little displaced and self-conscious amid thecrowd of red-coated soldiers boarding the steamer. She was suddenly aware ofher clothing, the dull brown breeches, shirt and jacket she’d been wearing for years without worry – but it had been a long time since she’d met new people. She’d grown complacent about her ability to pass as male. It was easy to keep up the act of being a pre-adolescent servant boy when people already believed it. It was entirely different to persuade new people.
What if the journalist took one look at her and laughed her away, saying he’d wanted a man, not a skinny little girl?
Katherine knew that her features were a little feminine, but with cropped hair and clothing, she hoped she would easily pass for an undernourished fourteen-year-old-boy, instead of her sixteen years. If she wasn’t so proud of herself for her achievement, she might have been a little offended by it.
She squared her shoulders and berated herself for being stupid. Then she went to find her new employer, weaving her way through the crowd of tearful families waving off the soldiers.
Nearby a horse was being led reluctantly up the ramp to the ship, pausing every few feet to stare at the waves below, crashing against the dock. Katy climbed onto a crate of supplies waiting to be loaded onto the ramp, and looked out over the crowd. She spotted the journalist straight away.
He was reading a newspaper with bags of luggage at his feet. He looked completely out of place in his crumpled shirt and waistcoat among the crisply dressed soldiers.
He wasn’t what she’d been expecting, but she knew instinctively that it was him. He was young: only a few years older than her and almost as thin. He was a mess of scruffy hair and spectacles and looked barely strong enough to withstand the sea breeze that swept through the harbour, let alone a war. She suddenly felt a lot more confident. There was hardly anything to him!
“Mr Galloway?” she asked, stepping up the ramp to join him. The man looked up from his newspaper and smiled at her. He had high cheekbones that suddenly caught the light. They defined his face and − oh! − and he had dimples. Those were definitely dimples. Oh.
“You must be Christopher Russell! Matthew Galloway, pleased to meet you.”
“I— Hello.” She mentally shook herself. She sounded like a fool. She was all flustered, just because he was quite striking, in a posh sort of way, if − if you liked that sort of thing. She swallowed.
She took his proffered hand a little distractedly.
> First contact established in time-landscape 1854
Ta-dah! What do you think? Hopefully that it’s very mysterious and intriguing and you can’t wait to read the whole thing. In which case, here is some handy information about the book for you:
“Funny, romantic and compulsively readable” – The Bookseller
“Perfect for holidays” – Marie Claire
How many times can you lose the person you love?
Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.
Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?
Maybe the next together will be different…
A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, “original” historical documents, news reports and internet articles.
If you’ve missed any of the extra goodies I’ve posted about my book, here is a complete list:
- Meet the characters
- Chapter One from Matt’s POV
- The book as a haiku
- Advice I’d give Kate and Matt
- A Harry Potter crossover
- Drafting a scene from start to finish
- The Next Together as different genres
- The playlist
- A medieval short story
- The process of the cover design
- Deleted scenes
- Fashion of the characters
- Fancasting the characters
- 20 AUs of Kate and Matt
If you use an e-reader, you can request a free personalised digital signature from me using Authorgraph to go with your eBook here!
If you’d like to buy my book, it’s available online here:
A rebloggable version of this post can be found here.